For The First Time Ever, The Majority Of Congress Members Are Millionaires

| by Jonathan Wolfe

For the first time in American history, the majority of members of Congress are millionaires. The findings were researched and published by watchdog organization Center for Responsive Politics.

The organization found that of the 534 members of Congress, at least 268 of them are millionaires. This number is up from 2011 when only 257 members -- about 48% -- had net worths of at least $1 million.

“Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there's been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians to represent our concerns in Washington,” said Sheila Krumholz, director of the organization. "Of course, it's undeniable that in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin with."

While congressional Democrats were worth slightly more than their Republican counterparts, the figures for members of both parties are quite similar. The average Democratic member of Congress is worth $1.04 million while the average Republican is worth almost exactly $1 million.

Overall, members of Congress are about 4% more wealthy now than they were in 2011.

The richest member of Congress is Republican California Rep. Darrell Issa (R). Issa has a net worth of around $464 million. He has made his fortune in the car alarm business. The second most wealth member is Texas Rep. Michael McCaul (R). McCaul’s wealth stems primarily from his wife, who is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications chairmen Lowry Mays.

The two poorest members of Congress are million of dollars in debt. Rep. David Valadao (D) has a net worth of negative $12 million due to loan he’s taken out for his family dairy farm. The second poorest is Rep. Alcee Hastings (D) from Florida. Hastings has been in debt for almost two decades now while he pays off legal fees from when he was charged of accepting a bribe as a federal judge.

Most members of Congress continue to invest large amounts of money in the stock market. The top three invested in companies by members of Congress are General Electric, Wells Fargo, and Microsoft Corp.

Sources: OpenSecrets.org, Washington Post